Should criminals be entitled to recover compensation? Readers of this article will have their own views. This issue was looked at by the Court of Appeal in the recent case of David Michael Joyce v Edward Gerald O’ Brien and Tradex Insurance 2013.
Joyce brought a claim for compensation for injuries. He had suffered a serious head injury when he fell from the rear footplate of a Ford Transit van being driven by his Uncle, O’ Brien. The van was negotiating a sharp turn at speed. O’ Brien had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and Joyce claimed his injuries were due to O’ Brien’s negligent driving.
Sounds straightforward? Maybe, but in this case Tradex Insurance (O’ Brien’s insurance company) pointed out that the pair had been making their escape at the time of the accident after stealing a set of ladders!
The Court of Appeal accepted that O’ Brien (and therefore Tradex) was not liable as the two men had been engaged in a joint criminal enterprise. They went on to say that as this was a matter of public policy there should be flexibility in its operation. For example, it would not apply to a minor traffic offence such as a parking violation. The theft of ladders was considered altogether more serious.